Death Star Blues

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For all its bold architecture and stunning design, the new super hospital on the site of the old Southern General in Govan is living up to its early-bestowed name of the Death Star.

I have some close friends who have been treated there in recent times and have personal experience of a family member who is presently a patient and so have seen more than my fair share of the place over the past few months. First impressions are of a thriving, bustling city-within-a-city but you cannot shake the feeling that the QEUH complex is a monument to sickness rather than a haven of healing.

There is something inescapably gloomy and depressing about our failing health service and sadly the QEUH is the epitome of it, along with the “new Yorkhill” that sits beside the main body of the Death Star. I have spoken to many NHS workers in the place and those who came from the old Southern or the real Yorkhill are not fans of the shiny new speactacular place to say the least. Morale is low and I am aware of people who have quit their jobs rather than adapt to what should be a bright new dawn in healthcare facilities. In particular, ex-Yorkhill personnel lament both the lack of atmosphere and cameraderie as well as a marked decline in healthcare standards. Remember, this is the opinion of people who have been NHS workers for decades.

A casual glance at the papers will tell you all you need to know about an ongoing and deepening crisis in the NHS, one which is exacerbated by bitter politics here in Scotland where the NHS is used as a political football. In addition, anecdotal evidence abounds of the problems the Death Star complex is facing, with shocking standards of care and cleanliness along with staffing issues. The fact that the new hospital was built atop the old one is stupefying when you consider the problems of access, parking and both a sewage farm and scrapyard as near neighbours. Conducive to health and wellbeing? In the same way as a deep-fried Mars Bar, perhaps…

Deeper issues are also in play. Incompetence is being masked and deflected back on to patients and there is a general atmosphere of gloom and despair. Painting buildings bright colours, creating cinemas and having superhero fun days are no substitute for the real business of healing which ought to be taking place. Sadly, our NHS increasingly functions under a paradigm of symptom-treating rather than healing and wellness. There is a cash-splashing culture in some areas while others see people deprived of vital medicines and treatments. When will we learn that ostentatious and showy buildings are not what people need or want? What we want and need is a culture of healing and buildings that reflect that. What we need are doctors who follow the Hippocratic Code and not the hypocritical one.

It’s easy to be a critic and to be negative. But sometimes you just have to be honest and say it like it is. We are being failed by our NHS because we have allowed its culture to be dictated to by Big Pharma and political whores who use the NHS in a manipulative and agenda-driven manner. We have allowed standards to slip to a point where people pursue a career in medicine rather than a vocation. I remember a time when nurses in a ward could tell you the up-to-the-minute condition of patients in their care to an admirable level of detail. Nowadays they are doing well to get your name right. But don’t get me wrong – I still think nurses are the best thing in our health service. They are still underpaid, undervalued and over-extended in the wrong areas.

Far too much over-staffing is evident in certain departments at the Death Star. And far too many taking home good money in non-jobs. Maybe it’s just me but I haven’t met many patients who are satisfied at the levels of care they have received. And I have skin in the game, being a big fan of the old Yorkhill where my eldest daughter received excellent care under real medical professionals. I have also raised a decent amount of cash in my time for the old hospital. Which makes my disappointment with the new one all the harder to bear.

I remember as a boy being painted into the bed by nurses who brooked no nonsense. There were no PS4s or visits by Captain America when I got my tonsils out and no room of my own with a smart tv to watch. Hospital wasn’t fun because it wasn’t meant to be. It seems that in seeking the fun, we have missed the point, which is to get better.

I seriously doubt that many who are healthcare professionals are aware this is the point. And until they are, the Death Star will be just that.

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9 thoughts on “Death Star Blues

  1. Hello Bill. I agree with what you are saying. The fact is, in the very near future, people will need to take personal responsibility for their own health and well being. The NHS will implode soon. This is and will be a huge challenge for people who are daily bombarded with advertising of trash food and drink, which is the underlying reason why the NHS is falling apart. The government will need to take responsibility, but then again, the tail wags the dog, and the big businesses will never be told what to do. For example, in south America, Coca Cola is so cheap and easily available, almost everybody drinks it, in some villages they actually worship the drink, like a god. The sad part is that these people are dying off with type two diabetes, which is endemic.

    It is simply unsustainable, when so many people are being treated for diseases related to bad lifestyle and diet, i.e. diabetes and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, most of the cheap budget food is not good for you, and many families will be loathed to spend money on relatively expensive fruit and nuts, and lots of other natural food that is nutritious. There is also a lot of mis-information regarding natural food, and common sense will tell any person that if it is not in a package and not been processed then it will be good for you.

    All it takes is a bit of will power; for people to exercise a bit every day, eat with temperance and eat natural produce. If everybody did that, then the NHS would be able to operate for what it should be there for, and that is to treat people who have fallen ill, or had an unfortunate accident due to bad luck of ill fate. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating junk food in excess will lead to health problems, and quite frankly, when I see documentaries of people losing legs and arms etc, through type two diabetes, I say, it is your own bloody fault, take responsibility for your own well being and do something about it. There was a documentary the other night where a 15 year old boy had type two and was told he could be in serious trouble if he does not control his blood sugar in 10 years time. The camera then had the boy’s sister walking next to him and the boy carrying, guess what – sugary drink.

    I have never given my kids any fast food or coca cola or that other nasty drink that is given such high esteem- Irn-Bru. It is frankly like killing yourself slowly. I have never seen so many obese kids, and obese adults. When I was a kid seeing a ‘fat’ kid was quite rare.
    Even when you are shopping and making an effort to watch what you buy, it is still a minefield out there. For example, much high blood pressure is due to excess salt. Buying bread – notice that the average amount of salt in only one slice is half a gram of salt. You are only meant to have 6g of salt a day, so after some bread in the morning and afternoon, you have nearly used your amount up, and you still have all the other food to contend with. How many people are aware of that, and how much of their health is being ruined by taking High Blood pressure pills which have nasty side affects. The government could easily sort this out by giving bakers a salt guideline.

    My solution for the NHS is to give a dead line in say 5 years. After that date, anybody being treated for type two diabetes will be invoiced for their medical treatment. This also applies to people who have made a conscious decision to fall ill due to alcohol and smoking related diseases. As a tax payer, I’m no longer prepared to pay for this blatant misuse, especially when my family may miss out on essential emergency care, due to no doctors being available, as funds have run out.

  2. I have no experience of the death star but I was in wishaw general for 6 days and can’t compliment them enough, I was lucky as I was in a ward that had 6 beds in it and was able to have a blether with the guys next to me I don’t think I would like to be in an individual room.
    The only criticism I had was the lack of communication from the consultants.

  3. Bill ..

    As you know, I’ve been in and out of the QU2/New Southern over the last year or so, It’s an odd place to be at times.

    It’s a wonderful building/complex with facilities second to none, of that there’s no doubt.

    In saying that, I tend to agree with most of what you’ve written here. Every time I’ve been A&E (not the waiting area), whoever I’ve been with has been there for at least 6 hours before being moved into the Acute Response Ward. It’s even been up to 10 hours on a couple of occasions.

    I was in A&E last week with Tracey, something I noticed was the sheer amount of staff in there, I’d suggest more than there was patients or close to that.

    They say about on their phones, they were on computers, they were mingling and they were kinda hovering around the place. What they weren’t doing was nursing patients though, which I found a bit perplexing.

    6 hours or so it was before Tracey was moved into the ARW and in that time (apart from the initial painkillers and a quick check of blood pressure, taking blood and checking temperature, we seen 1 nurse and the doctor once, for approx 3 minutes.

    She then stayed in the ARW for a further 7 hours, so in total it took 13 hours or so to get into an actual ward, but in that time she seen no doctor until she was told she was being moved and why.

    The wards are again superficially excellent places, but I find the lack of caring and nursing incredibly striking. There’s perhaps 10 or so nurses on a ward at any given time but they all seem to be constantly on computers or up to their necks in paperwork.

    That’s not what they went to nursing college for, surely? It’s soul destroying and no amount of fancy new gadgets and machinery can hide it.

    A nurse friend of mine said to me that so many of the nurses have found the transition from communal wards to single rooms very difficult to deal with, which is quite a sad situation truth be told.

    I also have a mate who’s wife is involved with the running of the hospital, he told me that due to so many of the managers coming from different hospitals, (old Southern, Western and Victoria) they are squabbling incessantly about the most inane things, such as how towels should be folded, beds made, what time should this happen, etc.

    They’ve all had a different way of doing things and are still trying to protect their ways and staff that they’ve brought with them. I just find the place hard to deal with.

    It’s like a village but it has no soul to it. It’s an odd place as it has the potential to make a difference but it seems to me that it will take time for staff, management and patients alike to get comfortable with the new place.

    On the whole, if I was giving it marks out of 10, I’d give it about a 6 and a “must do better.

  4. The criticism of the QEUH is in my experienced unjustified. My wife has been in ward 4c on two occassions this year for operations and the staff and care has been nothing short of outstanding. While I appreciate people have complaints there has to be recognition that centrallising services particularly A&E and clinics will amalgamate the problems in previous hospitals into one place and the new hospital will take the blame.

    • Good to have a positive experience. You are the first I have heard. The thing to best in mind is that nobody wants the QEUH to suck. But it is too vital to ignore when it does.

  5. Hi Bill,
    Your spot on there about the hospital and I have a 6 monthly appointment in Hearing Aid dept.I also find it very confusing trying too find your way around and more or less hopeless asking staff as they don’t know where places are either.My own treatment has been fine but like yourself I hear plenty moans about it.

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